I wonder if you have ever had this thought while doing something you love: When will I be good enough to be seen in this?
It’s an odd thought, the idea that there are standards for being visible. And that I have to hide until I’ve met them. I’ve asked the question of so many pursuits for so long that I’ve grown accustomed to an unending list and no ready answers.
Maybe, like me, you grew up like this…
I’ve been playing around with conscious and lucid dreaming lately, or the practice of bringing awareness into my dream life. These kinds of night journeys are sometimes referred to as waking up while asleep, and they’ve taught me a lot about my power to choose.
The other night I had a dream that was all about emotionally navigating a particular relationship in my life (I know, I know so original). Anyway, there I was bumbling around this dream world I’d created when suddenly I was aware of the emotions I was feeling and how I was using them to affect my interaction with the other person.
Then I became aware that I could choose the emotion I wanted to feel, and that this choice would change the dynamic between us.
So I’ve been practicing the violin again this week and it feels like I’m starting from scratch. Scratch means scales and finger exercises and bowing maneuvers and striving. Striving to improve.
The idea of striving to get better didn’t just come up for me in the practice room this week. When I went to my local violin shop and tried out a few more instruments better rose up to smack me fresh across the face. A mother and her daughter were in line ahead of me also shopping for violins. The young violinist couldn’t have been any older than fifteen, and her mother proudly informed their sales person that she had been playing for eleven years. They took a handful of fine instruments into one of the rooms off the main lobby where we all heard the daughter begin to rip through Mendelssohn at tremendous speed.
Once, in a fit of teenaged passion, I sold the possession most dear to me to buy my first car.
That’s right, some lucky person paid pennies on the pegboard for my precious fiddle and bow, and I, being eighteen and desperate for freedom, hardly thought twice about it.
What I did think about was this: I didn’t want to be the well-behaved repressed violinist anymore. I didn’t want to push anymore toward some unattainable standard of musical excellence, and I really didn’t want to keep falling short. I wanted road trips and nights out with friends that bled into endless dawns. Gas pumps and freeways and gear shifts. I wanted my great wild beyond.
This person I thought up
This person I am
is becoming something else
The bath she fills
drop by drop
and the crumbs on the table,
but less fixed
more space in
the kaleidoscope’s eye,
Days are songs
their verses come hither
alone in the bath
is ecstatic drowning
I just got off the phone with a friend who is going through an Enormous Life Event. It’s one of those rites of passage most of us will experience—the passing of a parent—with all its attendant emotions, requirements, and mind-splattering world alterations. In short, it’s an effing lot.
By day I work in real estate, meaning I get to see and show a lot of homes. I never have the same day twice, and this suits my personality pretty well. Some days go above and beyond variation, however. Some days I get lessons in receiving that make it clear to me how connected we are, no matter what we are doing and even if we don’t always feel it.
I took myself to Yachats on a little writing retreat last weekend, intent on spending some dedicated time with the page. The retreat would be short—a night at the beach in what turned out to be a very loud room, the Captain’s Quarters, with a very deep clawfoot bathtub that would not hold water no matter how passionately I argued with the plug. It would be a full blue moon that night and I had two whole days to myself, all ingredients for the perfect productive storm.